Monday, August 31, 2009

Iconic Giants - Will we ever again find our Firsts, our Pioneers?

I had planned to write another 'cleaning up our manuscript' post, but last night I was thinking about Rules, and about the creative endeavor, about where we've been and where we are and where we will go. I thought about those who came before, and those who will be remembered. I wondered, who will be most remembered twenty, thirty, forty, one-hundred, two-hundred years from now? Do we have the ability to create Classics, or Firsts, or Pathways, in literature, music, art? Or have the molds been made and then placed behind thick glass to preserve them and we can only hope to find some spot in an ever-expanding crowd of creativity?

There was a time before Rules. There was a time when writers, artists, architects, dancers, scientists, mathematicians, musicians, etcetera, made the rules, because they trod where no one else had ever been before. It's difficult now to find the places where no one has been, which is why there are "The Classics," and why we have those literary (and other creative) giants/icons who are held up as larger than life, their images on cups and t-shirts and postage stamps, their works examples for those who follow. One glance at most of these images and you know who they are. One mention of a phrase and one knows who said it or wrote it, and it is deemed brilliant, never to be touched again by another - right? Are we creating our own paths, or new ones? Are brilliant works and new paths simply swallowed by the glut of All That Out There Everywhere?

Just as civilizations are built and then built upon and built upon again and again, so it is with language and music and art and science. There was the creating of new ways. And now, we build upon those "ways" -- we have rules we follow because they were established before us, and we build on those, and sometimes we throw them out, and sometimes we morph them, and sometimes we break them gently and ungently. Language, art, science, mathematics, the creative endeavor, is a living breathing thing, a malleable thing.

Who will find their face on a cup? Who will be caricatured on a t-shirt? Who will be our icons and giants? Or will we hold onto our iconic giants, those who cleared a path for all the rest of us so that the struggle isn't quite so difficult . . . ?

I'll be back tomorrow with "cleaning up our manuscripts . . . "

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Forehead Butts Mean Brilliance: So I have written it, So let it be True

I have decided that forehead butts mean brillance. Some of you have heard me talk about my Forehead butt, so named by my brother Johnny, who said, "Hey Sister, you have a butt on your forehead, haw haw haw haw Forehead Butt! Forehead Butt! haw haw haw" . . . *sigh* ... I've fought against my forehead butt. I've thought to have to Botoxed, but I'm afraid to have Botox (and you have to keep doing it and doing it and doing it). I tried Olay cream for "deep wrinkles" - I don't think it's doing anything for my forehead butt.

Then, I began to notice other forehead butts, and what I noticed was that people with forehead butts were creative and brilliant and wonderful in every way - especially in the creative brilliant intelligent awe-inspiring way . . . no, really! It is true. I am most certain of it as I make my way around here and there and yonder.

So I am now embracing my Forehead Butt! And, I've decided that every week I am going to attempt to post a pic of someone brilliant who has "THE SIGN" and "THE SIGN" is a Forehead Butt -- today I am beginning with Stephen King. A brilliant writer, and who has "THE SIGN" - his own Forehead Butt.

My friends- I encourage you all to find brilliant creative people who have "THE SIGN" of the forehead butt. Forward me the photos, and I will use them in my quest to find all of us who are lucky enough to have "THE SIGN" of creative brilliance, intelligence, and all around awe-inspiring omphalooompa doo.

No, go have a good day, and if you spot "THE SIGN" on the forehead, the forehead butt sign, then know that you are in the face of brilliance!

So let it be written; so let it be done.

(PS Barbara at Serenity Gate is still having a Tender Graces book giveaway)

A Daily OM: Fear of Losing What We Have

Connie, A highschool friend of mine, sent me something from The Daily OM and I liked it so I subscribed to get my own Daily OM.

I thought this one was quite appropriate to me lately (worrying about my work, my novel(s), etc), and to some of your blogs I have recently visited. Fear. I've seen that word much lately. And most times our Fear is fear of Losing Something. Losing our work, our lives, our loves, our places, our loved ones, our health, our sanity . . . sometimes letting go of the fear and turning to what we have at the moment, turning outward to someone in need, turning outward to Possibility, feeling gratitude for what we have in our lives that is good; these things can shove the Fear Monster away. Here's the Daily OM:

Fear of Losing What We Have

Seeing Beyond Fearful Delusions

One of humanity’s biggest fears is losing what we have. It is healthy when fear of loss helps us take steps to protect what we have worked hard to attain, but it is unhealthy to continue to fear something we can do nothing about. We need to remember that focusing our energy on fear can actually create what scares us, and holding tightly to what we have keeps us from participating in the universal flow of abundance and instead creates stagnation. Since we can only really control our thoughts and our responses, gaining proper perspective may be key to conquering such fears.

The letters of the word "fear" can be used to stand for "False Evidence Appearing Real." Fears of being separated from something or someone we feel we need for our security or happiness comes from a delusion—a distorted way of understanding ourselves and the world around us. When we understand that possessions are only representations of the energy at work in our lives, we can shift our attention to the right and proper place. We can stop fearing loss of money or success because when we understand how it is created, we can always create more. We can stop fearing loss of possessions when we realize that they are not the source of our joy or well-being but only icing on our cakes. And when we understand the energy of love, we need not hold anyone too close for fear of losing them for we know that love does not diminish when it is given or shared but expands beyond boundaries of time or space.

By focusing our light on our fears, they are revealed as mere shadows that disappear in the presence of mind and spirit. We can choose instead to direct our thoughts and creative power toward things of true value—love, abundance, peace, passion, and joy. These are energies that are always available to us when we place ourselves confidently in the universal flow of abundance.
Have a wonderful Saturday, my friends -- oh! and to those of you who caught the radio interview "How She Really Does It with Koren Motekaitis:" when I said how my blog friends were like this "Ball of friends" -I meant that in a good way *laughing* - "Ball of friends" sounds kind of weird, but I was nervous....haw! So, to all my BALL OF FRIENDS out there - Namaste, *muwah* Thank you all for all your support . . . I appreciate you for stopping by here, for your well wishes, for your emails, for your words about Tender Graces -- all of it.
PS! I just found out the radio show will be on Podcast on Monday, then itunes (a free download I am pretty sure Koren Motekaitis said) on Tuesday. *smiling*!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday Shoot Outs: Incongruous, (Book Give away, and Kat on the Radio Today)

GMR speaks no evil, Kat sees no evil....well, just a little peek is all--maybe not evil as much as weird . . . or incongruous . . .

Jeans that kept their 'shape' when slid off while sitting, haw!

isn't she lovely! isn't she wunnerfull!

Mary picked this week's theme, INCONGRUOUS, meaning odd, out of place, not in accord or consistent with something

Some of the photos are from this past spring's Baton Rouge Spanish Town Mardi Gras Parade. GMR and I visited Baton Rouge. A bunch of us met together at the parade. For me, it was quite overwhelming! Not as overwhelming as Las Vegas, but almost. If you live in a small town as I do, too many people, and noise, and music, and buildings and LOUD LOUD LOUD overwhelms. However, I had a good time. I think you'll figure out which photos are Mardi Gras - laughing.

This is my Maw Maw - she is the inspiration for the Mee Maw character in Tender Graces. If you read TG, then you know how "crazy" Mee Maw is. I don't think I need any explanations to this photo. There was no one like my Maw Maw, that's for sure. Later I want to tell some Maw Maw stories . . . sometimes versions of them end up in short stories or TG/SG.

Flying squirrels are strange creatures, but I think they are beautiful all the same. They give chirpy sounds in the night, and flashes of white as they glide from tree to tree to feeder to tree. Sometimes we have to shake them off the feeder, as we take in feeders at night to keep the coons and bears from destroying them.

good lawd. this bears no description.

Today I’m on the radio with Koren Motekaitis! I hope I don’t babble or screech a guffaw or . . . hmm, I think I’ll shut up so I don’t jinx myself *laugh* I am not sure, but I think you can listen to it by clicking on the How She Really Does It website and there’s an icon you can click on that reads “listen live on 95.7.” It begins at 11:00 Pacific time. Wish me luck that I do well - I sometimes have a hard time on the phone, and this interview will be done via phone.
Also, at the Serenity Gate, Barbara is giving away a copy of Tender Graces, stop by if you want to get in on that!

Now, have a great weekend. I'll be back next week with more "cleaning up your manuscripts" - ciao!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

TG Book Give-away and CONSISTENCY

First: Tomorrow I will be on the radio, "How She Really Does It With Koren Motekaitis." Here is the Podcast page of some of her guests - I feel honored to be included among them.

Next, Barbara at The Serenity Gate is having a Tender Graces Give-away. Head on over there if you are interested in going for it.

And thank you to Natalie W for this award! As I always say, I am so very bad about passing on awards. I am always honored and happy when I received them, and then I mess up by not doing my part. But I am appreciative.

We’ve discussed dangling participles, similes, body parts that move on their own, adverbs, tic words, and yesterday, Point of View.

Today, I will speak about Consistency.

Consistency is key. For example, if I’m reading a novel and the author is writing in third person limited POV (see below), and suddenly they switch to omniscient POV (head-hop) (below), I am thrown. Not Consistent. If you want to head-hop, do it consistently. If you are writing from one narrator/charater's POV, then don't willy nilly change to head hopping here there and yonder. Be Consistent. You do not want to bump me from the world you are creating. Let me, as your reader, know what you are up to so I can go along for the ride without wondering what is going to come out of the blue or without going, "Wait, what was that? I thought . . . " (obviously if you are creating a world where you are going to surprise your audience, then a "wow, I didn't expect that" can be a good thing . . . but, there is a difference between that and playing your audience for a fool, or just slap being careless . . . but playing your audience for a fool is another subject for another day.)

As I said below: If you convince your audience, you have done your job: Period. But you better convince them well if you are coloring outside the POV lines—at least for this reader. Be consistent.

You want the reader to trust you to keep them engaged in the world of your character(s). When you aren’t consistent, the reader is temporarily thrown out of your story—or bumped from your story—and that is not what you want, right?

You want to build that trust between you and your reader that tells/shows them you know what you are doing. Think about that. You want your reader to be confident that you are going to give them something they are looking for even if they do not know they are looking for it, because you convince them. Be consistent to build trust.

Consistency is important in other areas, too—as in writing Dialect (more on dialect later), creating a consistent world of your making, in the "character" of your character, and in the obvious ways: blue-eyed people remain blue-eyed, Tommy doesn't turn into Johnny, a character hates liver and later on in the story they are, without explanation, happily chowing down on a pile of liver, etcetera.

Breaking rules is a beautiful thing, but if you decide to do it and are not consistent, then your reader can be Bumped from the world of your characters.

Convince your audience you are the confident story teller by being consistent.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Point of View - I see you. I am the STORY TELLER. He/She is the STORYTELLER

Point of View. So much has been written, talked about, asked about when it comes to Point of View. There is first person, second person, and third person/third person limited points of view—not to be confused with Voice, which is another subject for another post. In fact, I’m wondering how to talk about POV without creating a too-long post. It may be the most confusing to write about without sounding rambly. Huhn. Well, read it all if you wish, skim, or skip!
(by the way - I'm going to be on the radio Friday - on the West Coast - more about that later - on "How She Really Does it with Koren Motekaitis")

Should a writer write in first person or third, or even second? Should a person stay in one point of view? How many points of view should a writer use?

Those “shoulds” are the problem here. If I get nothing else across to anyone reading, it is that we all must find our own voices and styles, our way of speaking to our audiences. We must feel at home with our words, language, characters, our Life’s Work! When we sit down to write, it must not feel a struggle based on what we think is expected of us, or some advice someone throws at us as gospel (even my advice-take what you can use and leave the rest). I don't like hearing other writers tell people, "You aren't a real writer if you . . . " or "You aren't serious about your craft if you . . . " Bull Hockey Poo Poo Doo Doo Pee Pee! However, if you do struggle over your manuscripts, don't even let that freak you out, either--I've read of some prolific authors who do not like the process of writing; they struggle through the writing, but still manage to create fine works. I respect those authors tenacity.

Here’s the thing: if you convince your audience and they read along without the urge to put down your book for good then you have done your job no matter what Point of View you write in, or your style, or voice, or etceteras. Convince your audience and you have done your job. Period.

Personally, I am strict about certain things in my own writing and one of those is Point of View. When I decide on what character/narrator is speaking to the audience, the Point of View, I stay there for the duration of the book, the story, or if I decide to write a book from multiple points of view, I’ll stay in one POV, characters/narrators voice, for the duration of that character’s chapter. No head hopping! Have authors head-hopped successfully?—my opinion? Well, I’m on the fence about it. I’ve had authors head hop with skill, but it still bumps me out of the story. I have to stop, even if briefly, adjust my thoughts, and think, “Oh wait, the author left that person’s head and is now in another person’s head and now is back to the other person's head . . .” Even with the most talented writer, head hopping can create narrative that jerks me around a bit.

What do I mean by Head Hopping, leaving the character/narrator's Point of View?

Imagine this, and I will use Second Person to address You (and more on second person another time):

You are at a party. As you circle the room, you can’t know anyone else’s thoughts—or can you? Well, you can assume that Maria-Thérèse is feeling agitated or worried—her brow is furrowed; she is wringing her hands—through her actions you know something is bothering her. T. Anne is laughing, her eyes sparkling, so you make the assumption she is having a good time, even though you do not know her private thoughts. Jessica is hanging back, in the corner, watching everyone without expression—you don’t know what’s going on with Jessica, why she’s being secretive, or anti-social, you can’t guess her thoughts at all, but something’s up with Jessica, that you do know. You can go speak with, Dialogue, other party-goes to find out information. So through dialogue and assumption, you figure out what others are "thinking," but only through your own limited perceptions...which is just fine, because you will be the STORYTELLER--you will convince your audience that everything you say is the truth you want them to know.

Just as you make assumptions at that party, your character, as the narrator, does the same: they see through their eyes and their eyes only, they can only guess at what the others are thinking By The Actions Of or the Dialogue Of the other party-goers, and by those actions or dialogue your narrator creates their assumptions, how they perceive the world. Your narrator then shows or tells the audience what is happening in that room. Convinces the audience by being the Storyteller! STORY TELLER.

If you were writing about the party in First Person Point of View, everything would be through the eyes of the narrator/STORYTELLER, using “I.” I am entering the party. I watch all the people. I see that T. Anne’s having a good time because her face is all sparkled up, we talk and she tells me she’s so very happy, so I was right. I note that Jessica is being secretive, because she is standing in the corner with no expression, she isn’t talking. I ask T. Anne what's up with Jessica, she says "I'll tell you later." I'll find out about Jessica later. As first person narrator, the character only knows his/her own thoughts, but can guess others thoughts through perceptions and assumptions and dialogue and then relay them to the audience, storytell to the audience what the narrator wants them to know. It’s cheating to hop into secretive Jessica’s head and tell the audience what she is thinking— the narrator will have to find out what’s going on with Jessica and as the narrator finds out, so does the audience.

Some authors write in Omniscient Point of View. Omniscient POV knows everyone’s thoughts, like an omniscient god. I don’t like writing from it and I don’t like reading it. That is when you walk into the party and everyone’s thoughts are known. You hear T. Anne’s thoughts, you hear Maria-Therese’s thoughts, you hear the secretive Jessica’s thoughts, you hear the main character's thoughts, and bouncy bounce the reader goes from head to head. Drives me batty, but that’s my own thing. Maybe it’s easier to write this way, for you can let your audience know all manner of thoughts and feelings of characters, but it’s not for me.
I like having that intimate control, that imtimacy with the audience through one POV at a time. A storyteller conveys his/her world through his/her eyes and storytells it to the audience and convinces them they are the true storyteller of the world they live in and are presenting to You, the reader, the audience.

Third Person LIMITED POV is similar to first person point of view in that you stay in one character’s head and that character perceives the world through his/her eyes for the duration, using “She, He,” or the characters name: “Stephanie.”

In third person limited, just as in first person, there is a camera lens attached to that character/narrator/storyteller and that character/narrator/storyteller records what is going on and relays it to the audience. For example, Stephanie enters the party; she notices Maria-Therese’s nervous stance, hears T. Anne laughing and then sees how sparkled up she looks, and she sees Jessica standing in the corner (by the way, I’ll also be writing about She notices/He watches/She sees/He looks …another post, but I am using this for my own purposes right now). She notes their body language and how they react to the world around them, and she speaks to them to see what they have to say, but she can’t know their personal private thoughts, only assume them. She lets the audience know what’s going on in the room by showing it through her own reactions to the people around her or how people react to her, or through their dialogue: but everything is based on her own personal assumptions to the word around her; how Stephanie sees the world through the workings of her own mind and personality.

Trust your narrator—which is another post: the reliable narrator, for another day.
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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Those Adverbly Adverbs, la ly ly ly la la la ly la!

I had my blabbity blabs and what a friend of mine once called my "over-thinking everything" personality and now I want to get back to tips on cleaning up your manuscript.

I’ve spoken about dangling participles, tic words, body parts that move on their own, and similes.

Remember, only take in what makes sense to you so you aren't stymied in your progress.

I’m hoping to be “simplistic” in these posts, to help you on your way to recognizing things we all have done, or do.

When something clicks, it’s as if you opened a window and let in bright fresh light—it’s the AHA! moment of recognition. From there, it is up to you how you write your work. But I believe in knowing the rules so you can break them, or keep them, or both. There aren’t many rules I haven’t manipulated, although I do have my own personal pet peeves I am strict about. Find your voice, your style, your own way and fly fly fly. Soon, things will make sense and you won't even think twice about what you are crafting....yay!

Today I want to talk about LY words as they pertain to Adverbs. Now, because language and grammar and Rules are so fluid and strange and weird, not all Adverbs end in LY and not all LY words are adverbs. For example, lovely is an adjective, it describes something or someone, and is not an adverb (and we should watch our adjectives, but that’s another post for another day).

To keep things simple, and for my purposes today, I am speaking of LY Adverbs, because they are easy to recognize simply because of that LY. If you want to, you can place LY in the search box of your Word doc and click “find.” A lot of work? Maybe, but I think it’s worth it. Will we find every little thing in our manuscripts?—Helvetica no! But the more we know intuitively, instinctively, and naturally (*smiling*) the better, tighter, and fluid, our manuscripts will be.

What’s an Adverb? Well, it modifies other words (verbs, other adverbs, adjectives) but I won’t go into all that—as I always tell you, a good Google or Bing or whatever you use to a reputable grammar site will give you more information when you are ready to pursue grammar rules in greater detail. Heck, even I am confused at times and forget what's what in Grammar. But I know it when I see it . . . most of the time . . . haw!

Here is an example of a sentence with LY adverbs:

Kathryn slowly typed her sentence. How did Kat type? Slow(ly)

Barbara quickly ran down the hall. How did Barbara run? Quick(ly)


Carol’s chickens are really beautiful. How beautiful are Carol's chickens? Really


Travis is incredibly handsome. How handsome is Travis? Incredibly

Are those examples so bad? Well, no, except “really” is one of my mentioned tic words! And of course, what does “incredibly handsome” mean to that character/narrator? What if instead the narrator/character, through the writer, told us, or showed us, what made Travis “incredibly handsome” to her. But I digress . . . most digressinglylylyly. We don't want to flower up our work, but we also want to paint pictures so the reader sees what we want them to see in a Better Way that is crisp and tight.

If your manuscript is full of Adverbs, the writing can be stintingly stilted. There is a place for the Adverb, but when over-used, the writing becomes heavily burdened, choppily choppy, and even annoyingly annoying (teehee).

Is there a way to recast without your LY word and still have a beautiful sentence? Or a beautifully written sentence? *grin* Yes . . . there is. And sometimes it takes a little more work and a little more love and a little more paying attention, but it’s worth it, well worth it. Remember I told you people have said, "I had a hard time putting down your book." That means I did my job; I did something right to carry the reader forward. Maybe part of that is good old fashioned Grammar--few adverbs, few dangling participles, few or no body parts acting on their own, few tic words, cutting back on my similes I love so much - maybe?

There is more to our manuscripts than a good story and interesting characters, even if our readers do not recognize why our work is hard to put down or reads beautifullylylyly.

Again, Grammarmartariainians, I am being simplistic here, but if any Grammar Kings or Grammar Queens stop by, please leave suggestions, or links, or ideas as to where readers can go to learn more; we’d be most appreciatingly appreciative…. wouldn't we, everyone?

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Riding the Roller Coaster that is the writer's/artist's life . . .

Did you know that I tossed around last night because I wrote about movies below, especially J/J? That I wondered if somehow someway someone connected to the movies would stumble across my blog and have their feelings hurt, or feel bad about something they’d felt so good about? That I wanted to erase the entire blog post of anything that could be considered negative in any way?


Because, I know how much love goes into what we do. How much work. Or sacrifice. Or time. Or all of those. I know that it’s easy for someone to come along and make comment on something they didn’t shed their blood and tears and sweat over, for that is what we do; we love talking about what we’ve read or seen or listened to—and frankly, the writer/artist/musician needs this, we do, for who wants to create our work in a vacuum where no one talks about it? We advertise it; we beg for your attention. We ask for it, and in the asking for it, we also set ourselves up for the ones who either shrug, or worse, who do not like us: Put your big panties on girls/boys and suck it up—that’s what we tell ourselves; we don’t care, we did what we love: that’s what we say; we stand by our work—and we mean it, however, in the dark, our brain swirls with it all, swirrllll swirrrrlllll swirrrrrllllllllll.

A person can receive thousands of glowing love notes on their work and one person says something negative, and if the writer/artist isn’t careful, that one negative thing can haunt. As ridiculous as that is, because of course the person should listen to the thousands of people who enjoyed their work, and not listen to that one person, right? Maybe. And I’m not saying this because I’ve received a bad review (yet?), for I’ve been incredibly lucky with reviews, and in fact, I’ve been astounded and relieved and pleased, and grateful.

But even so, I was braced for it, waiting, worrying, my stomach in knots—it was affecting my ability to write the next novel--yes, worrying over something that hasn't happened yet, craziness! My publishers, friends, and family finally said, “Stop this! Stop waiting for it and better yet, stop searching for reviews; stop going to Amazon and checking your ranking; stop stop stop—and just write the next book! Do what you love.” I stopped, I remembered why I do this—the love of language and words and my characters—the whole Thing of it all, this writing. The relief was palatable, to know I didn’t have to search and find every review and thank everyone for taking the time (well, actually, I want to thank everyone-very much so - because I am appreciative and grateful, but it is impossible to do it or else I'll never get my work done - so I try to say it here on my blog, my gratitude), and thus worry I’d stumble across something that would rip my heart out.

We writers/actors/artists/musicians need love *laughing* - no really. We need all the support and love we can get, because it’s a lonely business, and a scary one, and incredibly subjective. And what other career is so publicly scrutinized (well, the President is, for one, a job publicly scritinzed)? Can you imagine going into your job knowing that thousands of people are watching you work? And if you make a mistake, thousands of people see it, and not only see it, go write about it in newspapers and blogs and websites? Can you imagine that? But we go into this with our eyes open, don’t we? Welllllll, sometimes. But sometimes maybe we aren’t quite prepared for all of it. Would I trade it away though? Nope—the roller coaster ride is scary as hell, but it’s also thrilling. Up and down and around and up up up up up uP UP UP UP UP, DOOWWWWWWWWWARGGHSAAIYEEEEEENNNNNNNNN, up up up up up up up, AROUND THE BEND _AIYEEEEEEE GET ME OFF OF THIS RIDE--AUGHHHHH…..oh, is it over?let’s do it again!
(just found this cartoon~ haw~!)

Did I see too much of myself in Julie? Is that what really bothered me? That craving for attention at the risk of my friends and family and living my life outside of this fiction world I love so much? Coming to my blog or looking for those reviews or who has bought my book or what is my ranking on amazonmonster or or or, and thinking, “Do they love me? Am I loved? Am I Loved? AM I LOVED?” Or, perhaps I really just found the husband’s eating habits so annoying it tainted the other scenes (laughing! – growing up, my brothers knew my Achilles heel about smacking food; once they found out this, oh boy … smack smack smack –haw haw – sister’s getting mad!).

I feel this, well, responsibility now to be gentle with other writers (and other artists). And that is why I tossed around last night. Wishing I’d been more positive. The odds of anyone connected to any of the movies below coming by my blog and having their feelings hurt is about 1,0000000000000 to 1; however, it doesn’t matter, because I felt I’d somehow betrayed a fellow artist(s).

Here’s the way it is. Imagine one-hundred people reading a book, or watching a movie. Ninety of those people come away happy. They rave about the book/movie. They are grinning and excited. They write about it on their blogs, they tell their friends. Eight of those people thought it was okay. They enjoyed it all right, but it wasn’t the best thing they’d ever read/seen—they may or may not blog/tell friends, etcetera. Two of those people just did not like it, and they blog about it and tell their friends how disappointed they are. Now, who is right? All of them are right. Because it is a subjective, personal thing. It’s the business.

You simply cannot please everyone, my friends, so do what you love and do it the best you can and then sit back and pat yourself on the back: Well Done my friend. Good Job. You did it. Accomplishment should not be taken away from you by anyone. But put on your big girl panties and take it. I know what we lose, even while we gain. And it doesn’t matter whether you are famous, or not famous. The blood and sweet and tears that go into what we do leaves us a bag of bones sometimes. We love it, we need it, we crave it—but we pay for it, and so do the ones who love us.

That’s what I had to say this morning. I feel renewed and ready to get to work. Onward ho . . . WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE ride that roller coaster!

I'll be back tomorrow with more tidbits on "cleaning up your manuscript."

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Thoughts on Weekend Movies

I saw three movies this weekend; two on DVD: Knowing & The Soloist; and one at the theater: Julie/Julia.

I talked about Knowing below (and about Cheating - which I will talk about in my "cleaning your manuscripts" this coming week).

The Soloist There were inspiring messages about friendship and sacrifice; however I was sad and disturbed all the same. Mr. Ayers, this musical genius, a prodigy -locked in a world that only he understands. Sometimes the line between genius and "madness" is a fine one. The movie was intense and the acting extremely well done. Do not expect a traditional hollywood "happy ending" . . . although it does have a version of a happy ending.

As for Julie/Julia -- I adored the Julia Child parts - Streep is brilliant in everything she does and J/J was no exception. She WAS Julia Child. Stanley Tucci was wonderful as Julia's husband. Their interesting story made me laugh, cry, love food and cooking. Julia Child's story inspired me! Her "never give up" attitude-Bravo! I adore her more now than I ever did before, and I admire her more than I ever did.

However, unfortunately, as for the present day "Julie" parts - I'm sorry to say that I wasn't as much inspired. This is not a reflection on the author, because I have not read her book; however, for how it was portrayed on screen, the Julie character was sometimes whiny and one-dimensional. My friend said she's listened to author interviews and thought the on screen interpretation in no way portrayed the depth of the real Julie, or the real story of her depression or pain that she worked her way through with "Julia by her side." I can believe this - how many times have books to movies failed in some way? I am tempted to go back to her blog and read more about the author, as I visited it only briefly before watching the movie. When your books go to movies, you do lose some control of content.

Every time the Julie character's husband ate, I wanted to retch. The loud smacking, the chewing with his mouth open, the oozing food out of the mouth, the cake smashed all over the face - it was disgusting. It was distracting to me and I didn't find it cute or funny, and certainly not appetizing. However, when Julia Child ate, and when she cooked - I wanted to be there with her! I wanted to be enjoying food with her. She loved food and she made me love it with her. When she failed and then jumped back up on her feet, I was inspired. When she thumbed her nose at naysayers, I was inspired. When her dreams finally came true, I wanted to jump up and say YES!

Then there was the "thing" about Julia Child snubbing Julie (and the part about "guess who is coming to dinner was really strange - I won't give it away, but . . . huhn? Why make it seem as if one thing is going to happen when it did not?).

Perhaps Julia Child felt exploited. Well, Julie did exploit Julia Child for her own ends. What writer does not do this at some time in their writing life, knowingly or unknowingly (mostly knowingly)? Even when done with the best of intentions, with a heart full of admiration, it is exploitation when another person's life or character is so blatantly used to another's means to an end (becoming well-known). And Julie wanted to be a well-known writer, adored by others, and she wanted a quick way to it (who doesn't? *smile*).

Perhaps Julia Child snubbed Julie because she felt Julie didn't pay her dues. Julia Child spent eight years trying to publish her cookbook. She worked her ass off. And suddenly, here comes this young woman who rides on the back of Julia Child's hard work to "stardom" by writing a blog over the course of a year based on Child's hard work and dedication to something she loved: food and cooking.

I wonder how Julie felt about the way she was portrayed on screen? If she felt the missing parts that would have given more depth to her on-screen character? Or, if she really doesn't care because she achieved her goal of becoming "famous and well-known." After all, we can't please everyone - I know this from my own small experience in publishing. We just do what we love and do it the best we can and hope for the best. In fact, good for Julie for having such a wonderful idea and sticking to it! That is inspiring.

I wonder, though, if we can lose something of ourselves when it becomes about how much exposure and "fame" we strive for to be successful. As authors/artists/musicians, things can become about other things; will we sell or give away what's precious to us to "Make It" even if we think we won't do something that? In the end, does the means justify the end, or is it the old "laughing all the way to the bank" thing? I can't make a judgment on something I haven't experienced myself, but I do fear the answer.

All in all, I did have fun watching the movie-I laughed, I cried, I was hungry as hell.

Google images from:

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Friends and Movies . . .

(Monday I'll begin the "cleaning up your manuscript" posts again. I figure we all need a break over the weekend.)

Last night GMR and I rented a couple of movies.

We picked "Knowing" to watch last night, and saved "The Soloist" for later. . . "Knowing" was interesting but there were holes in the story, some bad acting, and as well, they "cheated" -- what is "cheating?" - more on that later in the "cleaning up your manuscript" posts, but I know it when I see it. I'm not sure what I thought about this movie. There were a couple of scenes that were supposed to be dramatic and I burst out laughing and poked some fun --not good. The people on fire scene was most disturbing to me - I was afraid it'd bring back my horrific Fire Dreams, but luckily it did not.

But today I'm meeting some women friends to see Julie/Julia. Yes, I actually have a few women friends--although I rarely see them because I'm too reclusive - I do have a good excuse (lately anyway) - I need to complete the manuscript to Secret Graces and get it to my publishers!

I'm not sure what to expect with the movie, but I'm keeping an open mind. I wonder why Julia Child snubbed the author/blog/book. But, I suppose that kind of thing happens.

I'm going with Lauren, Christy, and Francis. We're all connnected through the Hart Theater. Lauren's husband plays drums in the orchestra/band, Christy and Francis are actors and singers, and as well Francis is directing "Walking Across Egypt"--GMR is in that play. Christy also has her own business called "Sugar Buzz," and she's a photographer (she took my author photo). Lauren and I were for a short time a part of "The Concierge Three..." They are fun and beautiful and I adore them.

Good Man Roger will stay home and miss me *haw* ... or maybe he'll kick back and say, "Ahhhhh...the house to myself....where's the bacon?" (since I do not eat pork or want it in my house! huhn.) I mean, look at the precious piggies!

What are your weekend plans? Seen any good movies recently - or rented any good movies? What do you recommend next time I am in Ingles Supermarket movie rentals?

Later gators! I'll be round to visit if I can today before I leave, but for sure tomorrow. I appreciate all of you stopping by, and my new Friends!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday Shoot Outs: Signs & Leisure(from last friday)

I've been enjoying the cleaning up our manuscripts posts on dangling participles, similes, tic words, and "body parts that do things on their own" . . . now for just a little break for Friday Shoot Out!

This Friday Shoot Out is: Signs, and from last week I think I can include Leisure. I think these photos could encompass both, since a vacation is leisure, right?

We are "supposed" to do "our town," but this town happens to be Las Vegas (and one from Spanish Town Mardi Gras in BR at the bottom). I went to LV in July, with my brother Tommy (and in earlier posts I told some stories of our trip).

A thought to consider for today or the weekend....Sometimes we say, or will hear someone say, "In My Next Life, I . . . "

What would you do in your next life you couldn't or can't or won't or didn't do in this one, if you were to come back as someone/something else? This isn't a trick question, where I will say, "Then do it!" this is meant only for fun. Or, if you will, what do you want to look like in your next life, or do you even want to be human? Sometimes I'll say, "In my next life, I will be tall and have long thick glorious hair."

So, complete the sentence: "In my next life, I will . . . " (look like, do, be, find, enjoy, become . . . etcetera!). Have a nice Friday, or weekend if you take a blog break! I'll be back with some other "cleaning up our manuscripts" posts ...
(and later I'll post more Las Vegas Trip stories, since these photos are reminding me - as well as Top Chef is on Bravo right now and it is in Vegas! meemoorrieessss....)

As I've said in other posts, it was hard to take good photos in vegas because of perspective - the sheer size, the crowds, things in the way...etc.

our hotel room at Cesars

the mall was full of designer stores...I gawked

I have included this one from the Baton Rouge Spanish Town Mardi Gras parade from this past spring (when Rog and I visited there) - the famous Spanish Town Capitol Grocery with all its signs in the window and the signs on the t-shirts of the employees doling out food! Food is EVERYTHING in South Louisiana!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Picturing the scene: eyes falling out of their sockets; arms & legs followed! oh dear!

So! In posts below, I’ve talked about danged ole dangling participles, similes, and “tic” words.

This next one temporarily “bumps” me out of the story I’m reading because I notice it. Noticing something can be good or bad: I can notice something in the writing that makes me go, “Oh that’s good – wow!” or I can notice something that makes me go: “Oopsie!” Of course, I never say “oopsie” but I just like writing oopsie.

You do not want readers to notice too much. You want them engaged in the world of your characters and place and time and setting. The fewer things you have that “bump” your reader out of their dream-world of Your Story, the better. One of the most frequent things I hear about Tender Graces is: I had a hard time putting down your book and hated for it to end; but I read it fast and it ended too quickly! Do you know how that makes me feel as a writer? On top of the world! And why does my book move quickly? Why do readers want to keep reading? Why does it move quickly even if they do not want it to end? I hope because they are engaged in the world of my characters and story without too many "bumps."

While reading, this is something I see with my eyes inside their sockets where they belong. I hold the book in my hand that is attached to my arm that is attached to my shoulder that is attached to my body that is connected to my brain, which tells me what to do by using nerve endings; each of my body parts acts because I/my brain function asks or tells them too; they do not move on their own—I digress.

This, again, is a matter of thinking about that scene, how it “looks” (reads, is perceived) when the reader is full into your story and wants to stay there.

Here are some examples:

Analisa’s eyes fell on the table where the ring lay. They did! OMG! Get her to the doctor! Her eyes have fallen out of their sockets and landed onto the table….eeeeek!

Tim’s eyes followed Janna to the door. Wow, his eyes fell out of their sockets, and now they’re bouncing along … following her to the door.

Of course, everyone knows the writer doesn’t mean the eyes are literally falling on a table or following someone to the door, but, do you see what I’m pointing out? Imagine the scene.

Here are some other body parts:

Peter’s hand reached out and grabbed Jessica. His hand has a mind of its own!

Terri’s foot caressed Tom’s leg. Naughty foot, I wonder if Terri knows her foot is doing this!
What is a better way to describe these scenes where the Person is doing the action, not the body part? Even if you use a simple statement: Petter grabbed Jessica.

I want to emphasize that we all just do the best we can. As writers/authors, we are under stresses, deadlines, we have lives, we have family, and we are not perfect writing machines. What I do not want to do here is to make writers feel as if their manuscripts should be perfection. What I hope to do here is to get writers to think about their scenes/writing in new ways. I'm learning all the time; no one should stop learning or growing. Just as important, no one should stress themselves to grasp every little thing another writer tells them all in one gulp. See what speaks to you and go with it.

The more we do instinctively and naturally, the less time spent on "fixing" things that bump readers from our stories, even if they do not know why they are "bumped" - even if readers do not know why a story moves them along. We'll know.